Note: This review contains spoilers from Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Second Note: I am doing this review with only notes (and not the actual novel) in front of me (because I left it at home!), so please forgive me if I misquote or anything like that!
Yesterday I pretty much read the whole of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and I actually really enjoyed it. This was a book I have been meaning to read for a while, after seeing some buzz about it around the blogosphere, but because of other commitments (both bookish and otherwise!) I only just got around to it now. I’m actually really glad I did! The book was a fast, sweet read which still managed to say some important stuff about friendship and relationships and just being a person in general.
So, I think one of the reasons this book was so enjoyable for me was because of the circumstances under which I read it. Basically, I had a really chilled day with my Nain (my welsh grandma) sitting on the sofa and reading while she watched her daytime TV. I’m not sure why, but this setting and being able to read this book in pretty much one sitting really increased my enjoyment of the novel. Perhaps it’s because, as I mentioned in a recent post, I read Passenger by Alexandra Bracken over the course of a couple of weeks (a long time for me) feeling tired, and basically not very chilled the whole time!
Anyway, onto the actual novel itself! One thing I really loved about this book was the relationships in it, not just the principle pairing of Simon and the mysterious Blue but also between Simon and his family. If you have read my blog before you might know that one of my biggest bookish pet peeves is awful or completely absent parents in YA literature. Thankfully, Simon’s parents were neither of these things. I actually thought they had a really cute relationship with Simon! One of my favourite parts of the whole novel was when Simon’s parents told Simon that he could have his laptop back if he remembered all of the lines from his school play. When Simon points out that he doesn’t have any lines his Dad (I think) tells him:
Then you don’t have anything to worry about, kid
For me, this just exemplifies the development of their relationship throughout the novel, and how sweet a relationship it is. On the subject of family, I just really enjoyed the Spier family dynamic in general so that a highlight of the novel.
Now, onto the principle romantic relationship in the novel, that of Simon and Blue/Bram. I’m not going to lie, their relationship was incredibly cute, and I loved how at the end, after some initial awkwardness, they quickly settled into a relationship they were both happy and comfortable with. Although they didn’t get physically united until near the end of the novel, for me, nothing felt rushed, or alternatively, like it was dragged out too much.
One thing I will note is that (by complete accident) I knew who Blue was before reading the novel. So, when we were first introduced to Bram I knew where we were headed. Although I don’t think this lessened my enjoyment of the novel, it did make it a slightly different reading experience. I am really interested in what my thoughts would have been had I not already known. To be honest, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have suspected that it was Bram and I wonder if I would have been sucked into Simon’s conviction that it was Cal. Alas, I will never know!
One thing that slightly annoyed me about the novel (although less so towards the end) was the character of Taylor. Initially Taylor was presented as another addition to the cliché of blonde, slightly bitchy popular girl which frustrated me anyway, because I did not see the need for that type of character in this novel. Then, this impression was subverted as Taylor stood up for Simon when he was being bullied about his sexuality. But, later on, Simon points out that ‘Taylor may be an undercover, bully-fighting ninja, but she’s still kind of awful’. Yet, following this revelation, Taylor features in the band with Nora and Leah at the end of the novel. I am open to the idea that the point here is to show that teenagers are not black and white, and that all of them can be awful while still being generally good people .etc. (like Abby, Nick and Simon going out without Leah and pretty much the whole character of Martin) but at times it still felt like another version of a tired, YA trope.
Aside from Taylor, I did really enjoy how high school and being a teenager were presented. One great example is when Simon talks about him and his friends ‘singing Disney songs in the stairwell’ which immediately took me back to my high school days and made me very glad that singing Disney songs is a universal part of the high school experience! The whole production of Oliver! also made me really nostalgic because I was part of a welsh version of it when I was in high school, so that was really nice too! (In case you hadn’t picked up on it, I really loved being in high school!)
I also loved the continuous discussion about change and growth that the novel had going on (this is the part where I don’t have any direct quotes so I might get a bit rambley). The novel seemed to point out that it’s really important we are given the time and space by the people we know to grow and develop and become different versions of ourselves. For me, personally, this really struck a chord because I’m now in my third year of university and feel like I have changed every year, and become a slightly different person. Like Simon (eventually), I have been mostly surrounded by people who support me every step of the way!
Speaking of identifying with Simon, there were two instances in particular where I honestly felt like me and Simon might be the same person. Firstly when he points out that ‘there are times when it’s actually more work not to smile’. This is such a simple observation, but was one where my mind was instantly like, yes, I know this feeling! Secondly was when Simon tells Bram ‘” I like no endings”…”I like things that don’t end.”‘ Again, I was really able to relate to this observation because (discounting what I discussed above), I hate change and I hate things ending. This is something that has suddenly become quite prominent in my life because I am in my last year of university, which means an end to living with my uni friends (which I love) and living in the city. So again, when Simon said this, I was just like, yes, I’ve got you!
The last point I want to talk about with this novel is the upcoming film adaption, which is actually called Love, Simon. I’m not going to lie, I’m actually pretty excited about this film coming out. I really love some of the actors that are in it and I’m really eager to see how this novel translates to the screen. In terms of the name change, I actually quite like it. I think it captures the computer mediated element of the novel, and makes me really eager to see how the present the emailing sections of the novel.
So, there we have it, my thoughts on Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. All in all, it was a really enjoyable read that I would recommend!
What are your thoughts on Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda? How are you feeling about the film adaption? Let me know!
As always, happy reading!